Aspire Afterschool Learning

EIN: 54-1705642

Mission Statement

Aspire’s mission is to expand learning opportunities that help historically underserved young people fulfill their potential through afterschool and summer learning programs that connect families, schools, and communities. Aspire envisions an Arlington where all children have access to the support they need to succeed as learners, graduate high school, and grow as engaged members of the community. We are the only daily academic afterschool program in Arlington that is offered at no cost to 3rd-8th grade students and their families.


Program Summary

Aspire closes the opportunity gap by increasing access to afterschool and summer programs that include quality instruction tied to fundamental skills/coursework and opportunities for engaging enrichment activities at no-cost to historically underserved students and their families.

First, we offer an afterschool program, “Learning ROCKS,” at three locations in South Arlington from 3-6pm every weekday. This is the ONLY daily academic afterschool program in Arlington that is offered at no cost to 3rd-8th grade students. Learning ROCKS students participate in many learning activities related to Aspire’s five themes of Literacy, STEAM, Health and Nutrition, Culture and Current Events, and Social-Emotional Learning (SEL). Learning ROCKS provides 15 hours/week of afterschool academic and social-emotional support to 130+ low-income 3rd-8th grade students (Mon-Fri) at three sites.

A key function of Learning ROCKS is to improve students’ academic and functional English literacy skills through 30 minutes of dedicated reading activities each day. Learning ROCKS utilizes evidence-based methods and project-based experiential learning opportunities to reinforce key academic content. Students receive additional targeted and individualized tutoring and support with homework, foundational skills, phonics, and math. Our AmeriCorps members also work in schools during the school day, which offers a unique opportunity to build relationships, connect our programming to school curriculum, and identify students who could benefit from our support.

Second, we offer a six-week, full-day intensive summer camp to provide a safe and fun environment and help prevent summer learning loss. The content reinforces concepts from the school curriculum and emphasizes experiential learning opportunities that focus on skills like problem-solving, inquiry, reasoning, and collaboration. The structure is similar to the afterschool program, which provides consistency. Programming includes hands-on learning projects, a daily hot meal, educational field trips, and opportunities for unstructured play. Through these interventions, we are able to reduce the impacts of summer learning loss which year-over-year can make it more difficult for students to catch up to their more affluent peers.

Third, we offer family support. Our full-time bilingual parent engagement coordinator is a reliable point of contact for families in our program. She fields calls from families who need additional support and facilitates connections to resources at Aspire and with our community partners. She organizes workshops focused on topics that help parents support their children’s learning, such as advocating for their child within the school system, understanding students’ homework, keeping kids safe online, accessing resources in the community, and more. She also hosts interactive sessions like healthy cooking classes and helps families gather books to build home libraries.

Through longstanding partnerships with schools, affordable housing providers, and nonprofit organizations, we identify participants, recruit volunteers, connect families to resources, and advance shared missions.


Impact Statement

The 2022-2023 Learning ROCKS program reached a total of 152 students across our three afterschool program sites and during our six-week summer learning camp. This was our largest cohort in history!

Historically, 90% of Aspire students improve their reading each year. In fact, 94% of Aspire students tested on grade level for high-frequency words at the end of last school year, and 73% ended the year on grade level or above in phonics, an area where our school partners specifically requested we spend extra time. Other bright spots from our 2022-2023 program year include 80% of students who qualify for special services improving their reading level and 86% of students learning English improving their math level.

Based on Aspire’s demonstrated success and deep connections within the South Arlington community, Aspire was invited to open two new program site locations within Title I Arlington Public Elementary Schools. Both sites opened in fall 2023 and have the potential to expand to additional classrooms.

One Aspire parent recently shared, “I am thankful for the caring community cultivated by the Aspire staff. I am also grateful for their commitment to my child’s learning shown through special activities and checking homework (among other ways).”


What ways can the public get involved?

Aspire welcomes volunteers who can work directly with our students and help them grow. We have 1:1 weekly volunteer opportunities for volunteers who want to make a high impact and support a student with math, reading, or homework throughout the year.

We also host reading nights for groups to read aloud with our students and see first-hand the impact of your support. Aspire typically holds at least one reading, STEM, or art volunteer night every month. These opportunities are ideal for people who may not be able to commit to weekly volunteering but still want to make an impact. Other opportunities are developed around the schedule of volunteers. During the school year, volunteering can occur between 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM M-F.

Additionally, Aspire has a public Amazon wishlist where people can support our students by purchasing necessary classroom materials like construction paper, markers, notebooks, pencils, and more at https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/1ZLLKUQ4KX5KH?ref_=wl_share.


How are charitable dollars spent? Where does my donation go?

Donations help us to close the educational opportunity gap in South Arlington by providing critical learning support to historically underserved students at no cost to their families.

Specifically, your donation can provide the following for Aspire students:

  • Your donation of $50 can provide one day of afterschool support + a literacy kit for a student
  • Your donation of $100 can provide one year of STEM learning supplies for a student
  • Your donation of $250 can provide a full year of books for a student
  • Your donation of $600 can provide a student with a full month of afterschool support
  • Your donation of $1,000 can provide a year of learning supplies for a whole classroom

Information provided February 2024